By Jonathan N. Lipman
The Chinese-speaking Muslims have for hundreds of years been an inseperable yet anomalous a part of chinese language society--Sinophone but incomprehensible, neighborhood but outsiders, general yet varied. lengthy seemed by means of the chinese language govt as vulnerable to violence, they've got challenged basic chinese language conceptiosn of Self and different and denied the utterly remodeling energy of chinese language civilization via tenaciously preserving connectios with relevant and West Asia in addition to a few cultural changes from their non-Muslim neighbors.
Familiar Strangers narrates a historical past of the Muslims of northwest China, on the intersection of the frontiers of the Mongolian-Manchu, Tibetan, Turkic, and chinese language cultural areas. according to basic and secondary assets in quite a few languages, prevalent Strangers examines the character of ethnicity and outer edge, the position of faith and ethnicity in own and collective judgements in violent instances, and the complexity of belonging to 2 cultures without delay. relating itself with a frontier very far-off from the middle components of chinese language tradition and intensely unusual to so much chinese language, it explores the impression of language, faith, and position on Sino-Muslim id.
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A Muslim merchant might eat pork in order to enhance his working relationship with Trippner, "Die Salaren," 261. As noted in the Introduction, the People's Republic of China divides its Muslim citizens into ten minzu. According to this category system, the Muslim minzu living in contemporary Gansu, Ningxia, and Qinghai may be described as follows: (1) Hui, living throughout the region, are Muslims who predominantly use Chinese as their native language (though some in Huangzhong speak Tibetan); (2) Dongxiang, concentrated in Hezhou and its eastern district, spoke (and some still speak) a dialect of Mongolian, though many now use Chinese, and call themselves Santa; (3) Salar, living mostly along the two banks of the Yellow River above and below the town ofXunhua, now in Qinghai, speak both Chinese and Salar, a Turkic language, related most closely to Turkmen but now containing a vast number of Chinese and Tibetan loan words; (4-) Baoan (or Bonan), a tiny group living in and south of the Salar country, speak a Mongolic dialect similar to that of the Monguor people; and (5) Kazak, a nomadic people dispersed west of K6kenor and in the Gansu corridor, speak the same Turkic language as the Kazaks of Xinjiang and Kazakstan.
There the Sino-Muslims' bicultural quality is sharply pronounced, for they occupy what Richard White, a historian of European relations with Native Americans, has called the "middle ground," a place of intimate contact and fear and adaptation, a place in which peoples adjust to their differences while positioned between cultures. 28 Though it may be dominated by one side or the other, the middle ground is always ambiguous ground, always capable of multiple interpretations. The middle ground of Gansu, like that of the Great Lakes, enabled a long process of sometimes expedient, sometimes deadly, mutual misunderstanding.
In Gansu live a wide variety of mixed peoples, all on the frontiers of their linguistic cultures: Turkicspeaking Muslims, Mongolic-speaking Muslims, Chinese-speaking Tibetans, Tibetan-speaking Muslims, Monguor-speaking Muslims and non-Muslims, and more. These groups, most of them now carefully but inconsistently classified as "minority nationalities" by the state, have in earlier times been more fluid, flexible entities. Individual fronter folks, by conscious choice or unconscious adaptation, defended and altered their identities among their neighbors.